Summary: Although God is a God who hides himself, he has revealed himself to us.
Having just lost his best friend, his road was obvious. No one would appreciate it, especially not his wife. But, he had to explain the situation to her anyways, why it had to be. Just as he thought, she was not happy. But, there was no easy way out. There was no shortcut home. He had to travel to Russia to train. He had to fight Ivan Drago. He had to swing logs around and run up a snowy mountain. And in doing so, he would singlehandedly bring about the collapse of communism and the Soviet Union. Rocky Balboa’s path was clear.
Although I’m using a silly way to explain it, shortcuts are often not the answer. Sometimes the best thing to do is walk the road less travelled. That being said, because the road is less travelled, there will be dangers and obstacles in the way. It will be draining and exhausting, but at the same time, it will be the correct choice.
The path before Sarai and Abram was not an easy one. In fact, it had been quite trying already. When he was a mere 75-years-old, and she 65, God came to them and said, “Pack up. You’re not going to retire. You’re not going to settle down and take life easy. Rather, I’m going to put you on the move to Canaan where you will spend your final years as shepherds and nomads.” But, God had a reason for doing so. That land of Canaan would be attached to a son that would come from those two. A son who would grow into a great nation and eventually would father yet another Son who would bless the entire world. The only issue, Sarai was barren and well past her childbearing days.
And now, having spent 10 whole years doing God’s will, there still was no son to speak of. He was now 85, she 75. If it is impossible to have a child at 65, surely it’s not going to be any easier at 75. So, Sarai came up with a plan. Perhaps she reasoned that God must have meant for the line to run through Abram, not her. Maybe, she was following the custom of the day. At this time and in this part of the world, the custom was seemingly well established. We have even found marriage contracts which demanded it. If a woman could not bear a son for her husband, she was obligated to offer up one of her maidservants to her husband in order to have that son. And if she gave birth, the credit was to go to the wife. It would be as if she herself had borne her husband a child.
With that, Sarai brings her plan to her husband. The text speaks of no fight put up by Abram. At worst he was thinking only with lust in his heart, at best he was being a pure idiot. This whole ordeal just makes your stomach turn when you think of all the sin and all the people it affected. First of all, Sarai mistrusts the Lord. Then she robs the headship position from her husband. Abram, who should have lovingly told her “No,” accepts the position of helper and submits to her headship. They throw an innocent woman, Hagar, into the mix and tell her to go and break the 6th Commandment under the guise that it must be what God meant.
And somehow, to everyone’s surprise, the situation churns up a cesspool of anger and jealousy and dissent. Why is that? Why do we still get so surprised when sinful decisions lead to pain? But we do, every stinking time. We’re absolutely dumbfounded when it works out in that way. You would think by this point with all of our experience with sin that we’d finally learn not to trust it. But we still do. In our situation, experience has not led to wisdom. Often, all it’s done is made us experienced fools. And, one of the worst ways in which this has played out in our lives is when we’ve been Abrams of our own. A loved one has come to us with a sinful plan, and instead of telling them why it’s wrong, we cowardly and stupidly join in with them. They needed you and not only did you join in, but your decision let them fall flat on their face. You could’ve helped prevent pain, but instead you have been the source of pain for them.
We know this, and when we talk about, it’s so frustrating. We look back at those situations and think, “My God, what have I done!?” And what do we do about it? Again, we add to the sin. Either we pull the Sarai and blame it on everyone else but ourselves. We blame it on Abram and we blame it on Hagar. We convince ourselves that our thinking and motivation were pure, even if our actions weren’t.